This pesto is made with equal parts basil and cheese, garlic and olive oil. The addition of cherry tomatoes lends some sweet acidity, with brings out the flavor of the basil and garlic even more. I, for reasons I can't entirely explain, find making this in a mortar and pestle to be superior. But if you don't own one a food processor or blender will work as well.
1 heaping cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Handful (5-7) sweet cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup Parmegianno Reggiano, grated
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
a pinch of salt
With a mortar and pestle:
1. Pound the garlic and a small pinch of salt until you have a paste.
2. Add the basil leaves and smash until they start to break down, releasing their oils. Grind along the edge of the mortar until you have a textured paste (not completely smooth but with no large chunks of basil left).
3. Add the quartered tomatoes and the grated parmesan and grind a bit more so the tomatoes break down and the parmesan is blended in.
4. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture and then grind until incorporated, and repeat, in batches, until all of the olive oil has been incorporated. The parmesan should lend it plenty of flavor, but add a little salt if necessary.
With a food processor:
1. Pulse the garlic and a pinch of salt a few times, scraping down the sides if necessary until you have a fine mince. Add the basil and pulse until you have a thick, rough paste.
2. Add the quartered tomatoes and the grated parmesan and pulse a couple more times. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Toss with orzo or small, ridgy pastas, like strozzapreti or trofie, with plenty of parmesan and pepper. Spread onto crusty, toasted bread as a snack. Glob onto a fried egg for breakfast or top onto a bowl of chicken soup or minestrone.
Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 9 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave in a pinch.